Details

ISBN-10: 0872868141
ISBN-13: 9780872868144
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/20/2021
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.90" W, 0.60" H

Published by City Lights

Mule Kick Blues: And Last Poems

Introduction by: Garrett Caples

Price: $17.95 $12.57

In stock

Overview

The final book of poems from a Beat Generation legend, Mule Kick Blues finds McClure restlessly innovating until the end.

The final book of poems from a Beat Generation legend, Mule Kick Blues finds McClure restlessly innovating until the end.

Intelligent, affable and flecked with unconventional typography–as in previous books … Mule Kick Blues is an estimable coda to a storied career.–San Francisco Chronicle

What a beautiful book. … I can’t think of any contemporary artist who explores the interior, the inside-out of the dharma as magically and freely as McClure except maybe for David Lynch. Were they friends?–Eileen Myles

This legendary rockstar eco-poet’s gemlike modal structures will keep humming while ‘black ants circle a bubble of honey.’ A final performance from a master poet.–Anne Waldman

These pyramids and lozenges of crystal and light point in all directions and pierce you with the sobbing foghorn lobs of the ever-morphing ripples of the San Andreas Fault Ensemble. Long live McClure and the Libratonic Scales of Interspecies Justice!–Filip Marinovich

His dedication to the pursuit of liberation in craft and subject matter reveals him to be a powerhouse of wisdom, love, joy. In this book, his ferocity and tenderness intertwine. Here are poems of improvisational intensity. And they are great gifts to us.–Uche Nduka

A powerful collection of new work written during the last years of McClure’s life, Mule Kick Blues was readied for publication before the poet’s death in May 2020. Its opening section gives us a rare view into his thoughts about his own mortality, particularly in the moving sequence Death Poems. The book takes its title from an innovative series of homages to blues musicians like Leadbelly and Howlin’ Wolf, and evoking Kerouac’s concept of blues poems. Featuring shout-outs to lifelong friends like Philip Whalen, Diane di Prima, and Gary Snyder, the long poem Fragments of Narcissus, and the eco-logical and zen-infused themes for which he is known, Mule Kick Blues is a definitive statement by one of the most significant American poets of the last sixty years. Introduction by poet Garrett Caples, McClure’s editor at City Lights.

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In The News

“Spring/Fall,” Poetry Daily, excerpt
“The Challenge of Editing a Beat Legend,” Literary Hub, excerpt
“A Poetry Reading List for the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Month,” book featured on poets.org
“Death Poems,” The Brooklyn Rail, excerpt
Book Trailer by Garrett Caples
“In Memoriam: Michael McClure (1932-2020),” Poetry Project Newsletter, excerpt
Two poems from Mule Kick Blues excerpted in the Poetry Project Newsletter

More In The News
Reviews

Praise for Mule Kick Blues:

Intelligent, affable and flecked with unconventional typography–as in previous books ... Mule Kick Blues is an estimable coda to a storied career.–San Francisco Chronicle

Here readers will immediately encounter the poet's signature formal techniques: the reuse of certain phrases that fit like modular blocks; the visually captivating all caps; and, especially, McClure's center-justified line, which is destabilized with slight errancies that lend a delightful wobble or curvaceousness to the page. McClure engages familiar Buddhist themes in compositions that mix profound philosophical and spiritual statements with painterly deployments of deep image. The results are often arresting ... As a whole these poems demonstrate McClure's ongoing innovation to the very end of a lifelong practice. Sometimes his experimentations retain a youthful frivolity, but more often they capture the mature, spiritual attunement of a poet facing his own ephemerality.–Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

The new volume includes elegies for Jack Kerouac, Diane di Prima, Amiri Baraka, Philip Whalen and Jack Micheline and 'Mule Kick Blues, ' a section channeling blues greats like Willie Dixon and Lead Belly. But the theme of facing death peacefully–even joyfully–permeates the collection. 'Mortality is beautiful, ' he writes, comparing death to a dark chocolate cake. ... But he combined a lifelong Buddhist practice with an ecstatic embrace of life–sex, muscle, sinew–that can't be forgotten. In Garrett Caples' words [in the introduction], 'Posterity must contend with this lion.'–Nob Hill Gazette

Poet Michael McClure was obsessed with the way words hang on the page–forming like crystalline icicles on the cool midnight eaves. And in Mule Kick Blues, his final collection of poems, he explores this obsession until it leads him to the edge of the ultimate rainbow. ... And like all great books, Mule Kick delivers a timeless message ... it evinces that McClure is still singing out there somewhere over the invisible skyline in your next life.–Electric Review

With a heartfelt introduction by editor Garrett Caples, Mule Kick Blues is a magnificent lasting tribute to the far reaches of McClure's imagination, creativity, and singular standing in Beat literature.–Beat Scene

What a beautiful book. He's Blake-huge and gets away with it, possibly because he's always in motion. 'Should I put a hairy tail where my head is?' He revels in the unstable. The famous all caps that explode in his poems show the bounce of his desire at the micro and macro, a wish to experience, to understand the scale of existence. I've never read such a disarming approach to mortality and death, he's young in it and absolutely withit, most felicitously when he shares it with a friend: AROUND / THE / EARS / a puff / of / cherry blossom smell which he repeats to Diane because poets always speak to each other in rhythm. I can't think of any contemporary artist who explores the interior, the inside-out of the dharma as magically and freely as McClure except maybe for David Lynch. Were they friends? He talks to a shark before crossing to 'the other side'. The radicality of Michael McClure might be that he's all on the surface, but rarely alone, like a new kind of depth: 'To the sensual fly buzzing in my ear / I am a warm good tasting stone.'–Eileen Myles

Like Zen poets of yore, Michael McClure's tender satori consciousness cuts though the Dark Age with friendship, desire, psalms of the meat-wheel, pond-plants physics, and animal cries in spines of symmetry. It's a pulsing maelstrom. And others chime in: Sung Tung-P'o, Dōgen, Mallarmé, and Blake flex biceps in mutual co-arising. Mule Kick Blues is claps of thunder bringing the mind back to a luminous level of particulars. 'I'm coming from my hormones with nothing left to tease.' A cat's face is 'like a basket of pine cones in a dream.' Recently departed, this legendary rockstar eco-poet's gemlike modal structures will keep humming while 'black ants circle a bubble of honey.' A final performance from a master poet.–Anne Waldman

A searing offering of Dharma gongs forged from raw speech and spirited struggle with mortality rather than the usual arch-translation instruction manual. These pyramids and lozenges of crystal and light point in all directions and pierce you with the sobbing foghorn lobs of the ever-morphing ripples of the San Andreas Fault Ensemble. Long live McClure and the Libratonic Scales of Interspecies Justice!–Filip Marinovich

The primordial, the modern, and the postmodern collide in Michael McClure's intriguing poetry. His art is a masterful mosaic of experiential and visionary transformation. His dedication to the pursuit of liberation in craft and subject matter reveals him to be a powerhouse of wisdom, love, joy. In this book, his ferocity and tenderness intertwine. Here are poems of improvisational intensity. And they are great gifts to us.–Uche Nduka

Praise for Michael McClure:

'Many of us who began to write in the 50s were desperados, ' McClure later recalled. 'And in the teeth of the times we were outlaws. But now anyone with deep human or humane feelings is something like an outlaw.' McClure nonetheless maintained an unswerving commitment to 'the discovery of the materiality of consciousness, whether in the sound of a car starting, the tension of a shoulder muscle, or the floating of an owl feather in the breeze, ' through many collections of verse, essays and recordings.–The Guardian

As the late actor Dennis Hopper once said, 'Without McClure's roar there would have been no Sixties.'–Los Angeles Times

Mr. McClure would become known as one of the founders of Beat poetry, a performance-driven form of free expression, inspired by the rhythms of jazz and the mingled insights of eastern religions, erotic experiences and wild peyote visions.–Washington Post

He took part in the storied San Francisco reading where Allen Ginsberg unveiled a version of 'Howl.' He went on to have his own moments of fame and notoriety.–New York Times

Like most of Shelley and the late poems of D.H. Lawrence, McClure turns the phenomenal world inside out, seeking Mind within mind.–Diane di Prima

McClure shares a place with the great William Blake, with the visionary Shelley, with the passionate D.H. Lawrence.–Robert Creeley

Michael McClure has been one of the great visionary poets of the modern world.–Lyn Hejinian

There is no poet more adept at calling forth the elements, only to fashion them later as eternal amulets for his readers.–Cedar Sigo

[C]ertainly a genius in thought and writing it out McClure is one of the few contemporaries to have understood Kerouac as a literary poet–and learned some joyous classic invention therefrom ... Thus we have a McClure poet, a McClure natural philosopher, and a McClure prosateur and novelist. Hardly anyone in America with equal range and sharpness, liveness. What more?–Allen Ginsberg

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Details

ISBN-10: 0872868141
ISBN-13: 9780872868144
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/20/2021
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.90" W, 0.60" H
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